‘Airplane’ descends on to UK Region free Blu-ray with a variable 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 transfer, framed in the widescreen 1.78:1 aspect ratio. The film opens with the grainiest looking Paramount logo I can recall ever seeing and the question in my mind is “Why?” The high def transfer reveals pieces of dirt trapped in the optical titles, which could have been cleaned up. During the movie, every time we have a ripple dissolve to a flashback sequence we are treated to a significant increase in grain, although this is no fault of the transfer. It’s just the old optical way these effects were achieved in the past. All the same, I can’t help but feel that not much effort has gone into making ‘Airplane’ look as good as possible for its Blu-ray release. In general the image, although sharp enough for viewing on a 50 inch screen, doesn’t have the real bite that we’re used to seeing nowadays. Colour is strong, coming from the direct lighting used on the movie which also ensures good contrast and healthy blacks throughout. Skin tones are of the warm, Hollywood tan persuasion but the general impression is of a low budget movie – which ‘Airplane’ most certainly was – although with a bit of effort the Blu-ray could have been made to look better.
The audio on ‘Airplane’ comes in a DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround mix which is mostly front and centre weighted to ensure that we don’t miss any of the funny dialogue. Elmer Bernstein’s ‘B Movie’ style score comes across loud and clear via the main stereo pair and there are very few real surround moments. General hubbub is gently spread to the surrounds and the only really noticeable use of the surrounds I can recall is where there airport tannoy announcers argue with each other near the start of the picture. The subwoofer isn’t given much of a hammering either, but I was aware of a gentle presence on aircraft interior shots. All in all, what we have here is a workmanlike sound mix that doesn’t attempt to be the star of the show. Instead, it sensibly leaves the gags room to breathe – focusing on the delivery of crisp, clear dialogue. It’s the jokes that count, folks.
Group Commentary - The creative team of Jim Abrahams, David and Jerry Zucker gather together with producer Jon Davison and argue, bicker as well as talk over each other throughout the movie. I think they also had a competition going to see how many times they could mention ‘Kentucky Fried Movie’ during the session. We get to hear of the struggles they had getting the film made, the low budget and the cuts made prior to release. They point out who’s who on screen and it seems that every member of the Zucker family was involved. There’s a real horror story of a projectionist getting the reels in the wrong order at a preview screening. I got a bit fed up with them all talking at the same time.
Long Haul version (HD, 88 mins plus) - I couldn’t tell you how long this version actually is as it’s basically the movie plus a whole load of interview clips and deleted scenes that interrupt the film very frequently, whenever you see a TA logo appear. The interviews have the creative team saying pretty much what they said during the commentary track but we also have clips from Leslie Nielson, Peter Graves, Robert Hays and Julie Hagerty. There's an interesting comparison section with 'Zero Hour', the film it apes the most. I felt this whole affair would have worked better as a chunky ‘Making of’ documentary.
Trivia Track - A whole load of captions appear on screen at various points during the film with trivia – much of which is mentioned in the commentary track.
Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2 mins) - Yup, it’s fun to see how it was sold to the cinema going public back in 1980.
‘Airplane’, the comedy classic airline disaster spoof from 1980 touches down on UK Region free Blu-ray with a variable looking 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 transfer framed in the widescreen 1.78:1 aspect ratio. While the film generally looks okay, there’s a lack of high def bite together with increased film grain around the optical scene transitions that hail from the source print. The main titles would have benefited from a clean up too, but we get strong colours and good contrast throughout.
The DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround track concentrates mainly on delivering crisp, clear dialogue while Elmer Bernstein’s score enlivens the main stereo pair.
A group commentary from the creative team behind the movie, a ‘Long Haul’ version including interview clips, a trivia track and theatrical trailer make up the bonus materials.
It’s a very funny film that sends up every airline disaster movie ever made and many others with sight gags and one liners that’ll crease you up. There are great straight faced performances from Leslie Nielsen, Peter Graves, Robert Stack, Robert Hays and Julie Hagerty,
Surely you can’t be serious! I am, and don’t call me Shirley!
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